NC town will drop flea on New Year's Eve

The Cumberland County town of Eastover is starting a tradition this New Year's Eve by dropping a 30-pound flea.

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EASTOVER, N.C. — The Cumberland County town of Eastover is starting a tradition this New Year’s Eve by dropping a 30-pound flea.

The 3-foot-tall insect, which is made of fabric, foam, wire and wood, will be dropped in front of the Eastover Community Center at midnight on Friday.

A local seamstress helped put the insect together, Mayor Charles McLaurin said.

“She put some effort into it. It turned out pretty good,” he said.

The town of Eastover was known as Flea Hill until the 1920s. The name of the town was changed, but a nearby hill and water drainage district still carry the name.

“This is a sandy area, and, consequently, fleas like sandy areas. That hill kind of picked up the name Flea Hill,” McLaurin said.

According to locals, the town was infested with the pests nearly 50 years ago.

“Animals would get under the church. Consequently, the church got infested with fleas. It became almost unbearable,” McLaurin said.

The preacher would open the Bible with one hand and scratch fleas with the other, according to local folklore.

Since then, the fleas have fled the town.

Eastover, with a population of about 3,800, was incorporated in 2007. McLaurin is its first mayor.

Now, as a way to honor its heritage, the town will drop a flea on New Year’s Eve.

“We had to do something that was original, a little quirky. But it worked out pretty good,” McLaurin said.

Festivities begin at 10:30 p.m. The ceremony will include a storyteller recounting the legend of Flea Hill just before midnight.

McLaurin said there is a contest to name the flea. Submissions have included Kathy Flea Gifford, General Robert E. Flea and Marty McFlea, he said. The town will decide on the name just before midnight.

A flea prevention company in Kansas has sent 1,000 inflatable fleas the town in honor of the event.

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Bryan Mims, Reporter
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Kathy Hanrahan, Web Editor

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